The story of Henry Hill and his life in the mob, covering his relationship with his wife Karen Hill and his mob partners Jimmy Conway and Tommy DeVito in the Italian-American crime syndicate.
Martin Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi collaborated on the screenplay, and over the course of the twelve drafts it took to reach the ideal script, the reporter realized the visual styling had to be completely redone. So we decided to share credit. They decided which sections of the book they liked, and put them together like building blocks.
Scorsese persuaded Pileggi that they did not need to follow a traditional narrative structure. Scorsese wanted to take the gangster film, and deal with it episode by episode, but start in the middle and move backwards and forwards. Scorsese would compact scenes, and realized that if they were kept short, the impact after about an hour and a half would be terrific.
Paul Sorvino wanted to drop out of the role of Paul “Paulie” Cicero, three days before filming began, because he felt that he lacked the cold personality to play the character. He called his agent and asked to be released from the film. Sorvino’s agent told him to think about it for one day before making a final decision. That night, Sorvino looked in the mirror and was frightened by the look on his face. He realized that that look was the look he needed to play Paulie.